NEW YORK – A day after a trio of NFL teams filled head-coaching vacancies, three more teams reportedly did the same Wednesday, highlighted by the Browns giving quarterback Baker Mayfield a familiar face with whom to work.
The Browns are reportedly promoting offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to head coach, with an official announcement expected soon. Kitchens, 44, replaces Hue Jackson, who was fired in October after compiling a 3-36-1 record.
After parting ways with Jackson, the Browns promoted Kitchens from running backs coach to offensive coordinator and named defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim head coach. Williams has been relieved of his duties and is no longer with the team.
In eight games with Kitchens as offensive coordinator, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.
In Denver, multiple outlets reported that Broncos president John Elway and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio agreed to a contract that would see Fangio succeed Vance Joseph as the team’s head coach.
Fangio, 60, met with the team Monday, a day after the Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 16-15 in the wild-card playoffs. He has 32 years of NFL coaching experience, including 18 years as a defensive coordinator, but never has been a head coach.
The Bears had the No. 3 total defense under Fangio this season and allowed 17.7 points per game, the best mark in the league.
The New York Jets will hire former Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase for its head-coaching vacancy, multiple outlets reported.
Gase, 40, was fired Dec. 31 after three seasons in Miami, where he went 23-25 while battling a wealth of injuries, including to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Before going to the Dolphins, Gase served as offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos (2013-14) and the Chicago Bears (2015).
ESPN reported Jets quarterback Sam Darnold approved of Gase after the two spoke via FaceTime on Monday.
In other NFL news, Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane returned to practice but revealed that his newborn daughter, Makenna, passed away last Thursday at a children’s hospital in Omaha, Neb. She was born prematurely on Nov. 12 with a heart defect.
Mebane, 33, was away from the team for most of December in order to be with his wife, Amena, and two older children.
A defensive captain, Mebane reportedly plans to play in Sunday’s playoff game against the New England Patriots.
Also, the NFL and NFL Players Association released a statement claiming that Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid was not targeted by the league’s performance-enhancing drug testing program, despite the large number of tests he underwent in his abbreviated season.
The league and union hired an investigator to look into Reid’s claims that his seven drug tests in three months weren’t random but related to a collusion grievance he’d filed against the league pertaining to his inability to sign with a team after joining then-teammate Colin Kaepernick in his anthem protest.